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Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas and Hanschen, LLC in Sikeston, Mo., has been named a Tier 1 law firm for Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants and Commercial Litigation in the St. Louis Metropolitan by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms in 2021,” and the firm was also named a Tier 2 law firm for Products Liability Litigation – Defendants in the St. Louis Metropolitan.

This is the 11th consecutive year U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® collaboratively announced the rankings, and the third year consecutive Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas and Hanschen, LLC has been recognized.

Attorneys in the firm include: Joseph C. Blanton, Jr., Bryan E. Nickell, Thomas W. Collins, III, Patrick R. Douglas, Shaun D. Hanschen, Deidre A. Peters and Trey Watkins.

“Our attorneys and staff work hard for our clients, and we are very honored to be recognized again by U.S. News,” said Joseph C. Blanton Jr., partner in the firm.

“This year we are again honored to be a Tier 1 law firm for Medical Malpractice - Defendants.  Our experience in medical malpractice gives us a unique perspective that we pass on to our clients,” added Bryan E. Nickell, partner in the firm.

“We are also recognized in Commercial Litigation and Products Liability – Defendants,” added Thomas W. Collins, a partner in the firm. “We continue focus on the best representation in these areas and have been recognized by our peers.”

The 2021 rankings are based on the highest lawyer and firm participation on record, incorporating 8.3 million evaluations of more than 110,000 individual leading lawyers from more than 22,000 firms.

“For the 2021 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation process has remained just as rigorous and discerning as it did when we first started 11 years ago.” Says Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers. “This year we reviewed 15,587 law firms throughout the United States – across 75 national practice areas – and a total of

2,179 firms received a national law firm ranking. We are proud that the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings continue to act as an indicator of excellence throughout the legal industry.”

Ranked firms, presented in three tiers, are recognized on a national and regional-based scale. Firms that received a tier designation reflect the highest level of respect a firm can earn among other leading lawyers.

U.S News Rankings

and clients from the same communities and practice areas. Awards were given in 75 national practice areas and 127 metropolitan practice areas.

Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas & Hanschen, LLC, specializes in civil litigation in State and Federal Courts, including medical malpractice, products liability, personal injury cases and commercial litigation. Since 1914, the firm has established itself as one of the leading law firms in the State of Missouri and actively practices in 30 counties in the state's southeastern region, as well as in the St. Louis area.

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Firm News

Firm attorneys have continued to represent clients in both transactions and litigation matters during the Covid Virus response while honoring the requests of elected officials.  Throughout the social distancing program, Firm lawyers have remained available to clients with respect to issues relating to the pandemic response and regular legal matters. 

In March, Diedre Peters closed large asset purchases of two separate businesses in the agricultural services sector for a firm client.  In March, Joseph Blanton completed a transaction in which a firm client sold his interests in a farming operation to its other principals.  Bryan Nickell represented a secured creditor in the sale of a cotton gin in the Missouri Bootheel.

Bryan Nickell, Shaun Hanschen and Joseph Blanton recently represented a municipality in an insurance coverage dispute with its liability insurers in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.  In that suit, Firm attorneys defended a declaratory judgment action and prosecuted a Counterclaim relating to coverage and were able to help achieve a settlement of the insurance coverage litigation while the underlying suit also settled.

Joseph Blanton completed a five-month course of study and exam through the Harvard Business School and received a CORe certification in Accounting, Economics, and Data Analytics.  

Office Manager Darlene Ferrell recently retired after working for nearly 50 years at the Firm.  Sandy Nelson has been named the new Office Manager.

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On April 5, Joseph C Blanton Jr. was honored as 2018 Citizen of the Year by the Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce. Blanton was described as an example of an individual in leadership, excellence in his profession, and dedication to community organizations. He graduated from Sikeston High School as the class president and valedictorian. After high school, Blanton received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and went on to law school at the University of Texas. After serving as a Federal law clerk, Blanton returned to Sikeston in 1987 to practice law, and has been practicing there ever since. He served on the Missouri Bar Board of Governors and the Scott County Bar Association. Along with those organizations, Blanton served as the president of the Sikeston Jaycees and president of the Sikeston Jaycee Rodeo Board. He is a former president of the Sikeston Rotary Club, and also served as chairman of the Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities. The Boy Scouts of America are one of his passions. He has served as a Boy Scout district commissioner, district vice chairman, and district fundraiser chairman. Michael Bohannon, previous Sikeston Citizen of the Year, stated, “Joe is very committed to the community of Sikeston and was properly awarded with the Citizen of the Year award.”

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Firm attorney Joseph C. Blanton recently sat for an interview by Litigation Commentary, a publication of Litigation Counsel of America, the trial lawyer honorary society limited to the top ¼ of one percent of litigation attorneys nationally.   The interview dealt with a wide variety of topics, including the history of the Firm and observations and lessons learned during a thirty year career as a litigation attorney.  The interview is available here.
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Summary Judgement
Joseph Blanton and Shaun Hanschen recently obtained a summary judgment on behalf of a farm credit system institution in a dispute with an insurance company over payment of proceeds from a fire insurance policy.   The insurance company decided not to appeal and has satisfied the judgment.  Working with national class action counsel, Patrick Douglas has represented local farmers in claims against Syngenta.   The Syngenta class action has tentatively been settled and it is anticipated that class members will receive their settlement payments later this year or in early 2019.   Joseph Blanton, Shaun Hanschen and Diedre Peters recently negotiated the dismissal of a suit brought against a Southeast Missouri professional without any payment being made.  That dismissal occurred the day before responsive pleadings were due.  Joseph Blanton and Shaun Hanschen successfully represented a local governmental entity that had been sued for an alleged project bidding process irregularity.  The Firm attorneys successfully defended that governmental entity during a hearing in which the Plaintiff had requested a temporary restraining order.   Once the other side’s request for the TRO was denied, the complainant dismissed the suit.  Bryan Nickell recently obtained the dismissal of a lending institution from a mechanic’s lien suit shortly before a trial was to begin without any payment being made.  Firm clients were recently dismissed from a medical malpractice lawsuit without any payment being made.  Attorneys Bryan Nickell and Joseph Blanton were the responsible attorneys for that medical malpractice suit.   Finally, the firm has hired a second nurse consultant.  RN Crystal Nugent, formerly employed by both Missouri Delta Medical Center and Bootheel Counseling Service, joined the firm in April.  She will assist firm attorneys in the representation not only of the firm’s healthcare provider clients, but in all matters which involve medical issues. 
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August 2017 News
Joseph Blanton and the Firm have been chosen to appear in the U. S. News and World Report listing for Best Lawyers in America for 2018 in the areas of commercial litigation, medical malpractice defense and product liability defense.
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July 2017 News

Attorneys Joseph Blanton and Diedre Peters recently obtained favorable rulings from the U. S. District Court in Cape Girardeau dismissing the firm’s client from two professional liability suits.

Attorneys Tom Collins and Bryan Nickell received a favorable ruling in a permanent total disability worker’s compensation case in July.  

Attorney Joseph Blanton obtained a confidential settlement for a firm client in a premises liability case involving the construction of stairs in June 2016.  

The firm was recently engaged in new matters involving the construction of a well for a rural water district, and several transactions relating to the sale of power and the leasing of fiber optic system by a municipal utility.

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November 2016 News

Joseph Blanton and John Cozean along with attorneys from Shook, Hardy and Bacon of Kansas City successfully represented a large financial services company in defeating an attempt to certify a class action in Wayne County, Missouri.

Attorney Shaun Hanschen has been admitted to practice in the State of Arkansas. Firm attorneys are now admitted to practice in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Kansas and Arkansas as well as numerous Federal District Courts, U. S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U. S. Supreme Court and U. S. Tax Court.

Attorney Joseph Blanton has been named as the representative of Legal Services of Southern Missouri on the Missouri Statewide IOLTA Board. This Board is responsible for allocating the earnings from Missouri attorney IOLTA accounts among the Legal Services programs in Missouri. 

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October 2016 News

Diedre Peters has joined the firm as an associate.  Diedre is a native of Mississippi County, Missouri and graduated from Charleston High School.  She is a graduate of Columbia College and the University of Illinois Law School.  At the University of Illinois, she was a member of the University of Illinois Law Review.

Joseph Blanton has been named as a member of the Federal Practice Committee for the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and a trustee of the Missouri Supreme Court Historical Society.


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Joseph Blanton has been designated a Premier Trial Attorney for the State of Missouri from the National Academy of Jurisprudence. This designation is limited to the Top 100 Trial Attorneys in the state.

He has also been included in the 2017 Edition of the Best Lawyers in America for medical malpractice and product liability defense and commercial litigation.

He, along with the firm, have been retained by a large financial services company to defend a putative class action pending in Southeast Missouri.

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